Even highbrow educational networks like Discovery’s Travel Channel can get into trouble when it comes to shooting and editing reality television. Today, the network is denying charges it left two stars of its Moms on The Road: Africa series in danger of sexual assault– and exposed all of them to tuberculosis.
But the women say the suits are lying.
Moms on The Road: Africa plucked eight American mothers from their happy homes and sent them on a six-week journey across southern Africa. This weekend, one of the moms, an actress and singer called Jackie Nova, claimed that during the filming of one episode, producers of the BBC/Travel Channel series left her, another mom– and a child — alone, without security, and in fear of sexual assault, as “strange men were coming in and out of the area in the darkness with comments thyat sounded to be a of a lewd nature.”
Jackie said the series producers left the dramatic incident out of last Thursday’s episode–to “cover their butts!”
Jackie (pictured at left) also charged that parts of her blogs and interviews on the show’s website were removed to aid the cover-up.
As our pals at RealityTVWebsite.com chased up the story, a Travel Channel spokesman fought back, saying, “The facts are, no one died… Please let’s keep a sense of proportion,” while series producer Dean Sota insisted that “fans of the show are witnessing all elements of the Mom’s journey and a vivid look at the trip’s many experiences.
“At no time during the day were any of the women in danger. Nothing was witnessed by any member of the crew, the tour guides, or myself. If they had at any time during the day expressed safety concerns we would have responded immediately.”
Patrick Younge, the Travel Channel’s General Manager and Executive VP, told RealityTVWebsite.com that he offered on the show’s message boards “to meet privately with any of the participants if they are unhappy with how they’ve been portrayed”
Earlier on those message boards, Younge also wrote that he’d reviewed the outtakes and spoken to all producers and editors involved with shooting, editing and interviewing the series’ subjects. “They all work for the BBC, which is generally recognised as having some of the highest editorial and ethical standards in the world. I am confident having completed this exercise that the events depicted in the show were accurate.”
That would seem to close the book on the scandal– except that in the midst of the denials, the other mom involved in the alleged sex threat incident stepped forward. Amy O’Sullivan, a realtor from Michigan, says the Travel Channel people are lying, Shelso says there were other cases when the women were put in danger, including being exposed to tuberculosis patients without being warned about taking proportions.
Travel Channel executives have reason to be concerned. If word about these charges begins to spread, viewers will find out about the series and start watching.